Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Scotch-Irish Blood in America"

From History of the McDowells and Connections, by John Hugh McDowell, pub. 1918, C. B. Johnston, page 45:

    Courage and Thrift of Ancient Clans Infused Into American
    Character—Recent Investigations Which Grace a
    Revolutionary Lineage Back to 373 A. D.

    The Scotch-Irish blood in America has been a strong influence in the molding of our national character. In Virginia, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky, and along the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains, the firmness, the courage and thrift and love of liberty of the ancient clans have been engrafted into American character for many generations. Recent investigations in Scotland and Ireland plainly show that among the founders of the American Republic were sons of the strongest strains of blood in the world.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quaker Meadows & Pleasant Gardens

The McDowell House at Quaker Meadows Plantation,
built in 1812 by Captain Charles McDowell, Jr
near Morganton, Burke County, North Carolina
From History of the McDowells and Connections, by John Hugh McDowell, pub. 1918, C. B. Johnston:

"According to tradition, the Quaker Meadows farm was so-called long before the McDowells or any other whites established homes in Burke County, and derived its name from the fact that the Indians, after clearing part of the broad and fertile bottoms, had suffered the wild grasses to spring up and form a large meadow, near which a Quaker had camped before the French-Indian war and traded for furs. On the 19th of November, 1752, Bishop [August Gottlieb] Spangenburg recorded in his diary (Vol. V. Colonial Record, page 6) that he was in camp near Quaker Meadows, and that he was "in the forest fifty miles from all settlements." The Bishop described the lowlands of Johns River as the richest he had seen anywhere in Carolina. But, after surveying the large area, he abandoned the idea of taking title for it from Lord Granville, because the Indian War began in 1753, the next year, and lasted nominally seven years, though it was unsafe to venture west of the Catawba until after 1763, and few incurred the risk of doing so before 1770. 'Hunting John' McDowell first entered 'Swan Pond,' about three miles above Quaker Meadows, but sold that place without occupying it, to Colonel Waightstill Avery, and established his home where his son Joseph [of Pleasant Gardens] and grandson James [Moffett McDowell] afterwards lived, and where, still later, Adolphus Erwin [brother-in-law of James] lived for years before his death. His home is three miles north of Marion on the road leading to Bakersville and Burnsville. The name of Pleasant Gardens was afterwards applied not only to this home, but to the place where Col. John Carson* lived high up the Catawba Valley, at the mouth of Buck Creek."

*John Carson (1752-1841) first married Rachel Matilda McDowell (1756-1795), "Hunting John" McDowell's eldest daughter and older sister of Joseph McDowell (1758-1795), of Pleasant Gardens. In 1797, widower John Carson married Joseph "P.G." McDowell's widow Mary Moffett McDowell (1768-1825).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ninety Six, South Carolina

From The Road to Guilford Courthouse, by John Buchanan, ©1997, John Wiley & Sons, page 140:

    Ninety Six was a fortified village more important than hundreds of far larger American towns today, second only to Camden as a Back Country outpost. It got its name because it was thought to be ninety-six miles from the Cherokee town of Keowee in the southwestern corner of South Carolina. It was described a few years later in the diary of the northern Tory, Lieutenant Anthony Allaire, as containing "about twelve dwelling houses, a courthouse, and a jail . . . situated on an eminence, the land cleared for a mile around it, in a flourishing part of the country, supplied with good water, enjoys a free, open air, and is esteemed a healthy place." Ninety Six began in the 1730s as an Indian trading post on the Charleston Path, the route from Indian country to the coast, along which moved furs and millions of deerskins. When the Rice Kings, aroused by actual and threatened force, finally deigned in the late 1760s to provide the Back Country with judicial districts, the first courthouse was established at Ninety Six.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

York County Gets A Toehold

The colony of South Carolina was founded in 1670, and was divided into three counties 12 years later. Craven County, which roughly encompassed the northern half of South Carolina, included the southern half of present-day York County, while the top portion of present-day York County was considered part of North Carolina.
Before the boundary between the two Carolinas was fixed in 1772, the northern portion of York County was originally part of Bladen County, North Carolina. In 1750 it was included in the newly created Anson County, North Carolina; the first land grants and deeds for the region were issued in Anson County.
In 1762 Mecklenburg County, North Carolina was formed from western Anson County, and included present-day northern York County. Five years later the area became part of Tryon County, which comprised all of North Carolina west of the Catawba River and south of Rowan County. The area would remain a part of Tryon County until 1772, when the boundary between North and South Carolina was finally established.
After its transfer to South Carolina in 1772, much of the area was known as the New Acquisition. In 1785, York County was one of the original counties in the newly created South Carolina, and its boundaries remained unchanged until 1897, when a small portion of the northwestern corner was ceded to the newly-formed Cherokee County.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Carolina Counties

  • 1712: Archdale Precinct (created 1709) of Bath County was renamed Craven Precinct.
  • 1729: New Hanover Precinct of Bath County was formed from Craven Precinct. (It was named for the House of Hanover, which was then ruling Great Britain.)
  • 1734: Bladen and Onslow Precincts were formed from New Hanover.
  • 1739: With the abolition of Bath County in 1739, all of its constituent precincts became "Counties".
  • 1750: Anson County, NC was formed from Bladen County.
  • 1753: Rowan County, NC was formed from the northern part of Anson County.
  • 1762: Mecklenburg County, NC was formed from the western part of Anson County.
  • 1764: Brunswick County was created from New Hanover and Bladen Counties. Brunswick later gave up some of its lands for Columbus County in 1808.
  • 1768-1779: Tryon County, NC existed for only 11 years (1768-1779). The area it covered was one of the first inland population centers in America, located west of the Catawba River and covering parts of present day North and South Carolina. Tryon County had been formed from Mecklenburg County in 1768, and abolished* in 1779 to form Rutherford and Lincoln counties. From its formation until the Carolina border survey of 1772, Tryon County included all or portions of the South Carolina counties of York, Chester, Union, Spartanburg, and Cherokee counties. This is why Mecklenburg County, NC records contain land grants that are physically in South Carolina.
  • 1777: Burke County, NC was formed from Rowan County.
  • 1779: Rutherford County, NC came into existence in 14 April 1779 during the American Revolution. Prior to 1779, Rutherford County was part of Tryon County.
  • 1785: York County was one of the original counties in the newly created South Carolina.
  • 1842: McDowell County, NC was formed from parts of Burke and Rutherford Counties.

    *Tryon County had been named for North Carolina's oppressive British governor.
  • Charles Woodmason & the Backcountry Presbyterians

    Charles Woodmason, an Anglican itinerant minister, was sent into the Carolina backcountry as a missionary in the 1760s. He stated that the congregation in the Waxhaws was "most surprisingly thick settled beyond any Spot in England . . . Seldom less than 9, 10, 1200 People assemble of a Sunday." With populations centered around the meetinghouses, the churches quickly became religious and social centers in the back country Scots-Irish stronghold.
    The Anglican Church, official church of the Carolina colonies, began taking notice of the ever increasing population of Presbyterians in the back country. In an effort to convert them to the "correct religion," a number of Anglican ministers were sent into the area. Charles Woodmason was one of these, and he recorded his observations and judgments of the backcountry residents. The majority of Woodmason's criticism was, as you might expect, reserved primarily for the Presbyterians, whom he referred to as those ". . . Ignorant, mean, worthless, beggarly Irish Presbyterians, the Scum of the Earth, and Refuse of Mankind." Woodmason also made mention of arriving at a Presbyterian meetinghouse which "had a large Congragation [sic] - but according to Custom, one half of them got drunk before they went home" that evening from the service.
    The Presbyterians apparently did not think much of Woodmason either. On one occasion, Woodmason was attempting to deliver a sermon to an assembled group, "But the Service was greatly interrupted by a Gang of Presbyterians who kept halooing and whooping without [the] Door like Indians." On another occasion "they hir'd a Band of rude fellows to come to Service who brought with them 57 Dogs (for I counted them) which in Time of Service they set fighting, and I was obliged to stop." When everything had quieted down, Woodmason tried to continue, and again the service was interrupted. He further explained his situation in not seeking charges against this band of ruffians "as all the Magistrates are Presbyterians, [and] I could not get a Warrant—if I got Warrants as the Constables are Presbyterians likewise, I could not get them serv'd—If serv'd, the Guard would let them escape."

    (Source: Charles Woodmason, (Richard Hooker, ed.), The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution: The Journal and Other Writings of Charles Woodmason, Anglican Itinerant, Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1953)

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    The Great Georgia Gold Rush

    White County, Georgia, was created in 1857 from part of the original land lot county of Habersham, which was created in 1818 from Indian treaty lands. In early times, the area of White County formed a transitional boundary between the Cherokee and Creek Indian nations. Gold was found there in the late 1820s along the Nacoochee River (then known as Duke's Creek) touching off the Great Gold Rush of that century. During the gold mining years, nine gold mines operated in what became White County, and operations remained profitable until as late as 1940.
    Two parties of sixty-one families emigrated to the Nacoochee Valley in the early part of 1822. These two parties came from Burke County, North Carolina, and rapidly spread over the entire county.
    History records of Habersham County indicate that "Alexander Erwin, a North Carolinian, son of a man who as a mere boy fought at the battle of Kings Mountain, came to the county in 1829. He, with Gen. B. F. Patton, a brother-in-law of Dr. George Phillips, put up a store for the purpose of trading with the Indians. Their place of business was the old O'Callaghan building on the site of the present Court House. Too old for service when the War Between the States broke out, he kept the post office and helped to look after the affairs of the town, but he sent three gallant sons, Capt. W. S. Erwin, J. B. Erwin and Capt., afterwards Judge, Alex S. Erwin."

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    John Lewis, First Settler of Augusta County

    From History of Augusta County, Virginia, by John Lewis Peyton, pub. 1882, Samuel M. Yost & Son:

      Among those whose attention was now directed to our Valley was John Lewis, who had been for some time in Pennsylvania, quietly awaiting the arrival from Europe of his wife and children. This remarkable man was born in the north of Ireland, descended from a French-Protestant family, and was educated in Scotland. In Ulster, where he resided until fifty years of age, he commanded the confidence, respect and esteem of the people, and occupied that position of influence, and took that leading part in society and county affairs, which had been traditionally the role of the O'Donnells, Chichesters and O'Doghertys. In youth he was of impetuous temper, but the varied experience of an active life had taught him to control his spirit. He was endowed with a high order of intellect, a valorous soul, and soon became noted for his virtuous principles. A deplorable affair, but one alike honorable to his spirit and manhood, terminated his career in Ireland. He had been sometime in America, when, in 1732, Joist Hite and a party of pioneers set out to settle upon a grant of forty thousand acres of land in the [Shenandoah] Valley, which had been obtained, in 1730, by Isaac Vanmeter and his brother, by warrant from the Governor of Virginia. Lewis joined this party, came to the Valley, and was the first white settler of Augusta....John Lewis' settlement was a few miles below the site of the town of Staunton, on the banks of the stream which still bears his name. It may be proper to remark here, that when the circumstances of the affray [in Ireland] became known, after due investigation, a pardon was granted to John Lewis, and patents are still extant, by which his Majesty granted to him a large portion of the fair domain of Western Virginia.
      For many years after the settlement of Fort Lewis, great amity and good will existed between the neighboring Indians and the white settlers, whose numbers increased apace, until they became quite a formidable colony.

    Friday, November 9, 2007

    The Warriors Path becomes The Great Wagon Road

    In the 18th-century migrations, few trails in America were more important than the Indian route which ran east of the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Georgia. This Ancient Warriors Path had long been used by Iroquois tribesmen of the north to travel south and trade or make war in Virginia and the Carolinas. By a series of treaties with the powerful Five Nations of the Iroquois, the English acquired use of the Warriors Path. After 1744 they took over the land itself. The growth of the route into the principal highway of the colonial backcountry was important in the development of the nation. Over this road came English, Scots-Irish, and German settlers to claim land. The Warriors Path led from the Iroquois Confederacy around the Great Lakes through what later became Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to Bethlehem, York, and Gettysburg, into western Maryland around what is now Hagerstown, across the Potomac River at Evan Watkins Ferry, following the narrow path across the "back country" (or "up country" or "Piedmont") to Winchester, Virginia, through the Shenandoah Valley, to Harrisburg, Staunton, Lexington, and Roanoke, to Salem, North Carolina, to Salisbury, where it was joined by the east–west Catawba and Cherokee Trading Path at the Trading Ford across the Yadkin River in Rowan County, to Charlotte, then to Rock Hill, South Carolina, where it branches into two routes to Augusta and Savannah, Georgia.

    (Source: The Scots-Irish From Ulster and The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, by Brenda E. McPherson Compton,

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007

    Raloo Parish, County Antrim

    Raloo Parish, County Antrim, Ulster, Northern Ireland
    From The Irvines and Their Kin by Lucinda Boyd, Chicago, Illinois, 1908:
      There is no district in all of Ireland so rich in armorial bearings as the neighborhood of Larne. The churchyards of Carncastle, Glynn, and Raloo [pictured] abound with them. The churchyard of Raloo is over-grown with long grass and weeds, so as to be almost inaccessible. But one may pull aside obstructions and remove lichens from the tall gray tombstones; trace the arms carved upon them, and read the names of the Craigs, McDowells, Crawfords, Boyds, and others.
      There is an old book, more than six hundred years old (I was told), that I found at Fair Hill, near Larne. It had belonged to successive sextons for hundreds of years, from the dates it contained, the last one being 1775, and giving a description of the flag adopted by the American Colonies. It is written in longhand, and has pen-pictures of the Coats of Arms of the Carlisles, Earls of Kilmarnock, McDowells, Irvines, Johnstons, Crawfords, and Blairs, and many others not connected with this history. In the beginning of the book this appears, written in a clerkly hand: "Nobilitatis virtus non stemma"–"Virtue, not pedigree, is the mark of nobility.”